Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

July 28, 2011

A Matter of Convenience

A reader emailed us with the following prompt:

My sister and good friend have come to the conclusion that even
if you meet a guy who likes you and it's reasonable to date, if it's not
super convenient they won't go for it. It's become all about convenience
and what's easy.

She also added these examples:
  • The guy regularly wants to "hang out" but isn't actively pursuing obvious dates.
  • Wants to meet at a designated place instead of picking you up.
  • Continues to contact you via text message instead of calling you.

All in all she concluded that to move from casually contacting to seriously dating a woman makes demands on a man to mature and to open himself to another person. Both of these things are challenging, can be uncomfortable, open one up to vulnerability and, quite frankly, create an investment of his time, money, and schedule that can look quite scary.

As lonely as it can be sometimes, the single life can be quite convenient. Your time is your own, your resources are at your own disposal, and you can decide when and where to give of yourself, be present to and with others, and only really risk love or rejection when you feel ready.

My own thoughts on this are complex and contradictory. On the one hand, I have experienced the examples our reader posed on numerous occasions, and I even had to find the courage to talk to a man who was casually contacting me to ask what his intentions were. In this case, I risked rejection when I said that I had feelings for him, while he was just content to casually keep texting and "hanging out," and had no intention of exclusively dating me. Other men have responded when I've asked them to move from texting to calling me, and really just did not know any better that this is what a woman wants. I blame that one on technology feeding our laziness, or just becoming normative. However, if a guy (or a girl, for that matter), is disciplined in virtue (which is far from convenient) in little things, he or she can easily say "yes" to inconvenience in other things, like relationships.

But on the other hand, a dear friend of mine told me a few months ago that it was only after meeting a certain woman that he "knew what it meant to be a man," and that this woman, by her very existence, made him want to be everything a man should be. He suddenly realized that the right woman made him want to move beyond his own wants and desires. He did the most inconvenient thing: picked up and moved across the country to be with her and find a job to provide for her, as he was so convicted about wanting to care for her. So, maybe it is that it's just wrong until you meet the right person. Maybe we aren't the right woman for him (and he is not the right man) if he's not working for it. And that, readers, is just an inconvenient truth.


Jerome said...

I have a few comments, but I've yet to completely form my thoughts.

In the meantime, since I gather it's worth keeping tabs on competing cultural attitudes, the following article is a fascinatingly pathetic counterpoint to the concerns of this post:

Julian said...

Thanks for the link, Jerome. What an awful commentary on vice twisted as some sort of virtue. I can't believe people operate in this way.

We'd love your thoughts when you have them!

Jerome said...

Convenience should be distinguished from lack of obligations.

I'm thinking of your friend who moved his entire world to be with Ms. Right, and while I don't doubt that his decision entailed many difficulties and inconveniences, I can't help but think that it would be nice if I could find myself in circumstances where it would be feasible to do such a thing, were I to determine the proper woman tomorrow.

But certain immoveable obligations would prevent me. Obligations, to be sure, of my own choosing. But jumping off of your comment about responsibility in small things indicating potential responsibility in large things, if I were to choose against some of these obligations in favor of more romantic flexibility, I think I would seriously compromise my character, which would subsequently diminish the expectations any good woman could have about me.

I'm reminded of a secular article I read some years back, which is not irrelevant to my current situation, about how some women won't, and indeed shouldn't, seriously date a man who is taking care of his mother, since his mother will always take precedence over her relationship needs. Now, even though I initially bristled at this conclusion, upon reflection I considered that it is eminently reasonable when embarking upon such a commitment, to ask where one will fit among the other person's competing obligations, esp. when they may be of such gravity as an ailing parent. And in light of my remarks above, it would also seem eminently reasonble for a person under such obligations, to remove him/herself from the dating pool on the grounds that one is not in a position at the moment to sacrifice all for the sake of Mr./Ms. Right.

But that can't be quite correct, either...Or are we to say that the only people who should consider dating/preparing for marriage are those who have relatively few and/or unburdensome obligations? Don't we then run the risk of submitting to a checklist mentality that replaces the difficult decision to love another real person with real faults under real circumstances, with the desire of maximizing our own convenience in the circumstantially ideal spouse? I fully recognize the prudence of evaluating risk and considering some obligations to be true impediments, but I would also point out that part of what makes a serious relationship serious is the mutual acquiesence in each other's difficulties in such a way that one's spouse is not considered objectively as one obligation among many, but subjectively as a partner in managing such obligations.

I will futher note that the recognition of, and acquiesence in, this type of relationship, where each does bear the other's burdens, would seem to require a fair amount of emotional maturity, openness, and vulnerability that is not necessarily fostered by the modern single life and all of its conveniences, even in its more chaste varieties.

Shifting to another of your comments, I'm glad to hear that you "found the courage" to ask that man what his intentions were. In my opinion, it's never a bad thing for a woman to help focus a man's attention on what his goals for interaction actually are. It might appear somewhat gauche to explicity broach the issue, but if he's actually a serious person who is looking for a likewise serious person, whether for romance or friendship, the ultimate clarity which such interrogation precipitates will surely outweigh any momentary awkwardness.

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